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Leftover Turkey Recipes - How to Use the Whole Turkey Carcass after Thanksgiving or for Cheap Meals All Year Round

Watching her mom as a kid, Vicki came by cooking easily. Kids Cook Monday offers simple recipes kids can help with.

Don't Throw Out the Turkey Carcass!

An almost eaten turkey . . . with lots more meals to make!

An almost eaten turkey . . . with lots more meals to make!

What to do with leftover turkey

You've made your turkey, you've had your big meal, and now you're left with quite a bit of turkey, still. What do you do with it? Well, you can do a whole lot with the turkey that is left.

From plain ole turkey sandwiches to casseroles to turkey soup, there are plenty of recipes to utilize the rest of that turkey.

Don't let that leftover turkey go to waste. You don't even need to throw out the carcass until you have cooked the heck out of it to make soup. And believe me, it makes lots and lots of soup.

We're going to be frugal and get everything we can out of that big bird! You may be surprised at how many meals one turkey can yield.

Turkey sandwich, anyone?

Fancy turkey sandwich with leftover cranberries, broccoli, and more!

Fancy turkey sandwich with leftover cranberries, broccoli, and more!

Turkey Sandwiches

After enjoying a few rounds of piping hot turkey from the oven, carved up and served with steamy stuffing and all the fixings, I'm ready for a tasty cold turkey sandwich the next day. After consuming all that food in one day, my tastebuds--and stomach--are ready for something simple and refreshing.

I like to have turkey sandwiches a few times with leftover turkey before moving on to something else. Enjoy slices of turkey on white or wheat bread, along with your favorite condiments.

I prefer the following:

  • mayonnaise
  • yellow or brown mustard
  • sliced onion--yellow, white, or purple will do
  • sliced dill pickles

Those items are the basics. Sometimes I add lettuce and perhaps a couple slices of tomatoes. Whatever I add, I am sure to enjoy my post-Thanksgiving meal turkey sandwich.

Turkey Salad

When I mention using turkey in salads, I mean two different types of salads--vegetable and egg salads. Recently, after cooking a turkey, I used leftover turkey in my garden salad. After I put in all the vegetables I wanted, I added chopped turkey and cheese. Oh--and I can't forget the salad dressing. Croutons are a nice touch, too.

You can also use leftover chopped turkey in egg salad recipes. Instead of ham or chicken, use turkey. Mix with chopped hard-boiled eggs, mayo, a squirt of mustard, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

Choose your salad. Enjoy some turkey in it for added protein and flavor!

Turkey Casseroles

You can also use leftover turkey to make a casserole. If you don't want a casserole right away, freeze the leftover meat to use for later. Use turkey instead of chicken--or perhaps ham--in any of your favorite casseroles.

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Make my light turkey divan that I usually make with chicken. Or try some turkey enchiladas.

Try a broccoli casserole with rice and cheese besides the turkey.

Turkey is pretty versatile!

Make Broth for Later Recipes

Even if there isn't enough meat on the bone (turkey or chicken carcass, or even beef roast or ham bone) to have left for a meaty soup, there is always enough flavoring left to make broth. Just boil the carcass or bones for a while. Then pick off whatever meat is left, if there is any. Or just take the flavorful broth that you have created if you boil the carcass or bones for a while to use for future recipes. Pick out or drain out the bones and skin, and freeze the flavorful broth in small freezable one cup containers to use in future recipes. When a recipe calls for a cup of meat or vegetable broth, just pull one of the frozen containers out of the freezer. Voila! You have a flavorful broth. Plus, you've saved money on buying high-sodium broths.

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Don't throw out the carcass! Make turkey and rice soup!

Are you one of those people who cringes when someone throws out the turkey (or chicken) carcass after Thanksgiving or another big meal involving poultry? Oh, I sure am. I can't stand it to see food wasted. A turkey or chicken carcass, or any kind of ham or beef bone, can make a whole lot more food for the family. Soup can be made. Just add ingredients. Or even broth can be made and frozen to use for later recipes.

After you think you've used all the turkey you can and are ready to throw away that carcass, DON'T! You'll be amazed at the amount of food left on a seemingly meatless carcass.

First, there are multiple servings of soup to be made with those turkey bones. Actually, you will be surprised by how much turkey will fall off those bones when you boil the heck out of it. So that's what you're going to do. Tear that carcass apart to make it fit in a large pot. Cover it with water and boil it. Boil it until the meat starts falling off the bones. it will after an hour or more. An hour and a half is about right, maybe less. The last time I did this, I let it go two hours. Everything just fell apart--which is good! You will probably have to add water along the way as it will boil down.

When it's done, let the pot and its contents cool. Then, skim off the fat that settles on the top. It will take you a little time to separate the meat from the skin and turkey bones. Keep the meat; throw out the skin and bones. Use a slotted spoon to pull out and sort any leftover turkey debris from the broth.

Add a cup of uncooked rice into your pot of turkey broth. Opt for noodles if you wish. I've tried both and love both. Add in sliced carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the turkey meat back in. Let it all simmer together. You will have one huge pot of turkey soup. Who knew how much it would make? And to think that you were going to throw out that carcass!

If you don't have a large family to eat all of this, freeze it in plastic containers. I freeze it in individual servings. It makes about 8 to 10 individual servings. Not bad, huh?

The turkey definitely gives a lot of food for the price--if you practice frugal cooking!

Thrifty Nutritious Turkey

Besides being low in calories, one bowl of turkey and rice soup offers up approximately 36% of your day's need or Vitamin A. See SparkRecipes for more information on the vitamins and minerals in turkey and rice soup.

Now, don't you feel good about being thrifty and frugal and using the entire turkey? I guess it's time to throw out those clean bones now. It's not a good idea to give turkey bones to the family dog, as they can splinter and harm your pet. I guess you could throw them in the compost bin, but it might take a while for them to decompose. I think it's probably okay to toss out the remains at this point.

It is truly amazing the number of meals a turkey will make. Whether you're one person or many, you can use up a whole turkey in a variety of ways, using the freezer to save anything that you can't eat right away. Consider cooking a turkey more than just once or twice a year. Turkey--it's not just for Thanksgiving anymore!

5 More Delicious Leftover Turkey Ideas

© 2012 Victoria Lynn


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on November 25, 2012:

bodylevive--That all sounds great! I love turkey sandwiches!!

BODYLEVIVE from Alabama, USA on November 24, 2012:

To me turkey is best when left over to make sandwiches. I also chip some up to make turkey salad. We love leftovers at my house, some foods just taste better left over, especially cold chicken.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 31, 2012:

Thanks, 2patricias--Your recipe index idea is really cool. Thanks for including me!

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on October 31, 2012:

Plenty of good suggestions here! I have always enjoyed turkey sandwiches.

I am adding this hub to my Recipe Index for HubPages.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 24, 2012:

Glimmer Twin Fan--I never thought of an omelette with turkey! A new idea. With stuffing, too! Oh, I love stuffing. Gotta try this!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 23, 2012:

DzyMsLizzy--Funny that your uncle thought he was saving money when it would go to waste. LOL. Thanks for sharing that!

Claudia Porter on October 23, 2012:

Good ideas and they are making me hungry. I love a turkey and egg omelette after Thanksgiving. Throw in some leftover stuffing and it is awesome. Of course turkey sandwiches are the best.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 23, 2012:

This reminds me of my childhood. My mom used to do all of these things--with the exception of the turkey/brie sandwiches.

I had to laugh, as it also brought up the memory of one of my uncles. He and his wife lived alone, but he would go shopping and get the biggest turkey he could find, because it was a few cents cheaper by the pound. The problem was, he did not like, and refused to eat leftover turkey in any form. It gave my aunt fits! Just try giving away turkey right after thanksgiving!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 23, 2012:

Thanks, Eddy! A beautiful fall day here. Hope you're enjoying your day as well!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 23, 2012:

GiblinGirl--I've never had ketchup on my turkey sandwich, but I do love ketchup, so I just might try it! Thanks for another great idea for turkey!

Eiddwen from Wales on October 23, 2012:

Another great hub for me to save into my recipe book.

Thank you so much for sharing and enjoy your day.


GiblinGirl from New Jersey on October 23, 2012:

I hate Thanksgiving but I love turkey - especially turkey sandwiches (I like to eat mine with ketchup). Thanks for the suggestions on how to use every last bit of this tasty poultry.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 22, 2012:

carter--I'm getting kind of hungry myself reading these comments. Thanks for yours! Cheers to you as well!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 22, 2012:

Random--me, too! The carcass makes so much soup, and it's so good. I like to freeze it and warm it up on cold days.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 22, 2012:

Aw, Bobbi, how sweet! The soup is great, and it makes so much of it--all from a carcass! Thanks for your kind comments.

Mary from Cronulla NSW on October 22, 2012:

Delicious ideas thank you Victoria...toasted turkey and brie sandwiches...yummy...VU& shared...cheers

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 22, 2012:

Great round up of ideas! My favorite part about hosting Thanksgiving is getting the turkey carcass to make soup. Thanks for all of the awesome suggestions and resources.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 22, 2012:

So true, KD! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 22, 2012:

teaches--I do hope it does well. It's amazing how many leftovers a turkey can make!

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on October 22, 2012:


Another great hub from you to our table. I have used Turkey meat in a lot of recipes but I have never made a soup. Thanks for always giving me that extra tip---my family appreciates it.

Have a great autumn with your love ones.


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 22, 2012:

Mhatter--Turkey BLT? Who knew?? I'll have to try that. Bacon, lettuce, turkey? Or turkey instead of the B for bacon? haha

KDuBarry03 on October 22, 2012:

There are so many things that you can do with poultry and save a lot on your food bill. Well done, Victoria!

Dianna Mendez on October 21, 2012:

With the holiday fast approaching I am sure that this hub will hit the top of the charts. I love turkey leftovers and will eat it in any form. My favorite is the sandwich. Love this hub and am waiting to enjoy the recipe ideas.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on October 21, 2012:

Thank you for sharing your great ideas. Our turkey leftovers go to soup and sandwiches (especially the turkey BLT).

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 21, 2012:

Thanks, Alecia. I've never had fried turkey, but I've heard so many good things about it. My stepdad makes turkey in a smoker, and it is awesome! I need to try fried, too. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 21, 2012:

Hey, Bill, do you think you might like turkey? LOL. You're too funny.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 21, 2012:

Carol, you're awesome to read all these turkey hubs. LOL. I think the leftovers are great, too!

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on October 21, 2012:

This is definitely going to come in handy as we near high turkey season. We've been eating fried turkey the past few years but since it's so popular in my family we hardly have any leftovers. That bird is good and gone. This is a tasty and useful hub!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 21, 2012:

There is no danger of any turkey going to waste as long as I'm eating solid foods. :) I love the soup from the carcass....did I mention I love turkey? lol Good job Vicki!

carol stanley from Arizona on October 21, 2012:

I think I like the leftovers better than the turkey. You presented some really tempting sandwiches and salads. They look delicious. We can now be ready for Thanksgiving. Great hub and voted UP.

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